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15 iulie 2019 - Special reports - NATO - UE

NATO-EU political and military events- May

Monitorul Apărării şi Securităţii

NATO• Changing the Allied Headquarter’s command, in Ramstein;European Union• Euro-parliamentary elections’ security context;• The action plan on military mobility;• 10 years of “Eastern Partnership”;Military acquisitions and defence industry• US criticizes the European defence projects;

Sursă foto: Mediafax


Changing the Allied Headquarters’ command, in Ramstein

US General Jeffrey L. Harrigian took NATO’s Allied Air Command leadership (AIRCOM) and the US Air Force of Europe (USAFE) and US Air Force in Africa (AFAFRICA) ones. The ceremony took place at Ramstein air base (Germany), on 1st of May, 2019.

General J.L. Harrigian took over AIRCOM's command from General Todd D. Wolters, who was in command since August 2016, and who is now Allied Forces Commander Europe (SHAPE).

Within the ceremony, led by General Curtis M. Scaparrotti (former Europe Allied Force Commander), have also participated all three commandments’ troops and civilians from other NATO structures, the US, the host country – Germany, and from Alliance's Supreme Command Europe. General Curtis M. Scaparrotti thanked General T.D. Wolters for his activity, stating: "Tod, your mission as AIRCOM commander has been brilliant, and your focus on assuring air force training has improved Alliance's combat capability." Subsequently, General Scaparrotti addressed those present at the ceremony, showing confidence in new AIRCOM commander’s abilities, stating that "with three temporary detachments in Europe, Jeff has a large regional experience and brings the proper knowledge, experience and strategic vision mix to the workplace."

General Jeffrey L. Harrigian got his political studies degree, at the US Air Force Academy, in Colorado, in 1985. In 1996, he completed Master's studies, at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, in Daytona Beach, and in 2002 he completed his studies at the Air Force War College, in Montgomery, Alabama.  

General Harrigan has more than 4,000 flight hours on F-22, F-15C and MQ-1 Predator. He executed battle missions to support “Just Cause” - the US invasion in Panama, in 1989 and the "Desert Storm" operations.

During peace times, AIRCOM ensures NATO’s space air defence against missiles and the operational control of NATO’s Airborne Early Warning, located in Geilenkirchen, Germany. Starting with 2020, AIRCOM will also take over NATO Ground Surveillance Force’s operational control, from Sigonella, Italy. 25 of the 29 NATO nations are contributing to AIRCOM’s staff and subordinate structures, such as Uedem (Germany), Torrejon (Spain) and Deployable Air Command and Control Center from Pogio Renatico, Italy.


European Union

 Euro-parliamentary elections’ security context

Five years ago, before European Parliament’s elections, European citizens were focused on continent’s economic situation and economic recession’s increase at that time. Today, they are focusing more on security and climate issues and, to a smaller extent, on economic ones.

According to the Eurobarometer, in 2013’s autumn, surveyed European citizens selected the economic situation (45%) and unemployment (36%) as being EUs’ two main problems. Within the last survey, these concerns were replaced by immigration, given that, in 2013, this issue was addressed only 16% respondents.

Mentioned by 40% of Europeans, immigration is the biggest concern in 26 EU states. The member states to have the highest rate are Estonia (65%), Malta (61%), as well as Slovenia and the Czech Republic (equal to 58%). Immigration is the second most important concern for Portuguese and Swedish people.

Terrorism has, at European level, the second place, (20%), due to violence’s emotional impact. However, this concern is quickly decreasing as there is no terrorist attack in any of EU’s countries. One fifth of EU’s citizens mentioned terrorism as their second most significant concern. Terrorism was mentioned as the most important concern in Portugal (35% of respondents) and has the second place in 13 EU member states (Czech Republic, Lithuania). It is interesting that in Ireland and France terrorism has the second place, alike the climate change.

Third place goes to public finances (19%), smaller than the previous Euro-parliamentary elections, when 26% of European citizens’ respondents voted this.

 Climate change has the fifth position, after economic problems, but has the highest growth, meaning over 9%. The highest results were recorded in Sweden (46%), Finland (36%), Denmark (31%), Ireland (27%), Belgium (26%) and France (22%).

Understanding why immigration and climate change’s rates have increased in Europeans’ consciousness calls for a deeper analysis of these policies’ progress in all member states. Firstly, we are seeing an immigration concern increase, between 2013 and 2018, in Central and Eastern Europe states. For example, only 10% of Hungarians, 9% of Polish and 13% of Czechs have seen it as one of EU’s most important issue in 2013. In autumn 2018, figures increased to 54%, 43% and respectively 58%.

Climate change has become Europe’s priority. Despite countries that are traditionally concerned about it, such as Sweden, Finland and Germany, the latest survey shows a significant growth for environmental awareness in France, Ireland and Belgium.

But will Europeans consider these statistics for the European Parliament elections? If we take a look back, we can confidently state that European voters, called at the ballot boxes from May 23 to May 26, will not vote only for their own reasons or each political party’s electoral campaigns. They will vote for the parties they think they share the same guidelines and values, even if the elections are local, national or European. In addition, Europeans concerns, whether it is employment, the environment or immigration, are challenges that need to be found at both European level, as well as within each nation’s relationship with Europe.

Concerns highlighted by the latest opinion poll, in November 2018, underscored an increase for those that could favor an anti-European tendency and right-wing parties, which change next European Parliament’s composition. This current radical solution is not the key to the problem. The solution is very simple – stop questioning "for or against Europe?" and raising the question "what Europeans need to do in Europe in order to overcome these security challenges that worry their own citizens?".


The action plan on military mobility

Facilitating military vehicles and staff’s movement is essential for European citizens’ security and for building a more efficient, integrated European Union, with a better response capacity.

At the European Defense Agency’s Directors Council’s meeting (EDA), 22 member states (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden) and EDA signed a new program to ease air and ground cross-border for military purposes. The program aims to implement an important part of the "Military Mobility Action Plan", which was presented by Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to the European Parliament and the Council, in March 2018. Military mobility is also underlined in the EU-NATO Joint Declaration signed in Warsaw in 2016.  

The aim of the May 14 program is to harmonizing different member states’ national regulations, so as to reduce bureaucracy and administrative activities related to military structures’ land and air spaces transit authorization procedures. This reduces flight times and military techniques during crises as well as during joint exercises. This program includes all environments and methods of surface - road, rail and inland waterways and air - unmanned aircraft, combat aircraft or helicopters. The measures included in this plan are to be completed by 2020. Hereof, EDA’s Chief Executive, Jorge Domecq, said that "military mobility aims to improve personnel and military assets’ movement within EU and beyond Union's borders. The large number of member states participating in this new program shows the need to reduce administrative burdens for cross-border military movements while fully respecting member states' sovereignty."

"Military mobility" defines military personnel, technique and equipment dislocation on land, air, sea or combined, wherein, for some of the cases, can include also a trans-border component, majorly important for multinational operations or training activities. The ability to ensure a fast, effective and uncompromising move from cumbersome administrative activities will make EU member states to act quicker, matching their defence needs and responsibilities, both given the common security policy missions and operations, and defence, as well as within national and multinational activities.

EDA is committed to supporting member states in implementing the “Military Mobility Action Plan” following the “Military Mobility Roadmap”, a document developed by an EDA working group that was set up at member states’ request, in September 2017. EDA’s support for member states also includes a program to harmonize military requirements in the customs field, the transport of dangerous military goods and other legal issues.


10 years of “Eastern Partnership”

On 13 and 14th of May, EU, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine marked the tenth anniversary of the Eastern Partnership, with some special events organized in Brussels.

Although it was supposed to mark a decade of achievements, the Summit ended without a joint statement. This happened because of Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister, Elmar Mammadyarov, to sign the declaration which was not mentioning his country's "territorial integrity", but indicated his country's position towards the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Georgia and Ukraine have also showed concern over the joint declaration, saying it does not recognize both countries’ "European aspirations". Despite these remarks, both countries’ representatives have decided to accept the wording as it refers to previous Eastern Partnership Summit’s conclusions. At the end of the meeting, the declaration was approved and signed only by EU foreign policy Chief Federica Mogherini, who chaired the Summit.

Despite the fact that the meeting ended without a joint statement, EU leaders and their Eastern Partnership counterparts have highlighted the progress made in these 10 years and reaffirmed their commitments to the so-called 20 expected results for 2020.

 But, which were the progresses made?

Armenia has made modest progress. Azerbaijan and Belarus are still autocrats. Georgia goes in reverse. Moldova is still "trapped" between Moscow and Brussels. Ukraine does well, but paid and continues to pay a terrible price with blood and suffering.

Therefore, the anniversary should have been a moment of reflection, not self-congratulation.

This partnership’s idea - a Polish-Swedish-Czech initiative - was a good one. EU supported a reform and integration process for the Eastern countries, precisely among its ex-Soviet neighbors. Over time, EU’s integration effervescence has decreased, and decisions on EU’s ultimate membership goal has been postponed. What went wrong?

The first mistake was that EU applied a unique political "template" to six states with different dimensions, history and geopolitical orientations.

The second mistake was misunderstanding local elites’ thinking, who did not want that much to implement reforms for public interest, at the expense of their own businesses.

The third, and perhaps the biggest mistake, was ignoring the relationship with Russia. Did Moscow want the countries in its influence sphere become democratic and prosperous, given that the biggest threat for Kremlin is democracy? Surely the answer is negative. Moscow prefers its former colonies to be weak, to be led by Kremlin-affiliated figures and, last but not least, to depend, economically, on Russia. Consequently, Kremlin has countered, by all means, the European "offensive" in its interest area.

But let us end this in an optimistic note. Not everything went wrong. The Eastern Partnership is not a complete failure. It has brought visa-free and free-trade travel arrangements to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It also provides a framework for further reforms and closer association with EU. At the same time, Russia lost the opportunity offered by EU’s failures. Putin’s regime governs public fear and private favors, which is not an example these countries should follow. Hence, Europe continues to represent a cultural, economic, legal, political and social model.


Military acquisitions and defence industry

US criticizes the European defence projects

The United States warned the European Union, stressing that its plans to intensify defense co-operation within the European bloc could question the transatlantic cooperation and affect the North Atlantic Alliance.

In a letter signed by two US State Undersecretaries (Ellen Lord and Andrea Thompson) and addressed to EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, they are criticizing the eligibility criteria for funding European defense projects, which excludes third parties, including the US. "It is clear that similar restrictions imposed on reciprocity by US would be well received by our European partners and allies, and we would not be happy to consider them in the future," said both state secretaries.

The document comes with a letter of intent signed by US Ambassador to EU, Gordon Sondland, asking for a quick response (by June 10) from European diplomacy’ chief, and reiterates US’s possibility of imminent reciprocal measures application.  

The letter shows concern for adopting a new European Defense Fund (EDF) regulation that allows EU member states to encourage non-European countries to join projects, but does not allow countries outside EU control developed arms exports. The US is also not ok with PESCO initiative’s conditions because it restricts US’s participation by requiring EU countries’ unanimous approval to include non-EU states in projects. Under these circumstances, Washington states that EDF’s funding eligibility, with a € 13 billion budget for the 2021-2027 period, is restricted and eliminates US.

Also, European government’s officials stated that the letter "proves" US's misunderstanding of how EU works, because EDF and PESCO are a coordinating method with the US and the American industry.

US’s gesture has produced some breaches within EU in terms of the rules to be set for allies outside EU, such as US, Norway and UK (after Brexit) who would want to contribute to defense projects.
A group led by France wants to establish tough rules, arguing that the goal is improving cooperation in Europe, achieve "strategic autonomy" and end the historical dependence on US to for continent’s security. Another group, led by Netherlands and Sweden, favors a more conciliatory approach, arguing that Europe should not remove traditional allies with a strong defense expertise, such as US. Moreover, there are also European sympathizers of US’s position on PESCO. A government official from an EU member state said that Europe should not have a "full open door", but also not close it too early.

This is not the first time Trump’s Administration has expressed concerns about EU’s defence projects. The US president, who once called NATO "out of date", criticized Emmanuel Macron’s idea of a "true European army."

EU is facing serious gaps in terms of the defence industry, which are highlighted by the Capability Development Plan (CDP), especially in the high-end field. From this point of view, there is a need for serious investment, both at national and union’s level, through EDF. In this field, we also have the greatest impact in terms of the relations with US, as European industry’s emancipation and support trends through initiatives such as EDF are affected because it would affect NATO's credibility and fundamentals of the transatlantic connection.

If we take a look at the European companies in the defense industry, we can see that some of them are trying to reach higher requests, while others are more cautious and do not want to raise their production capacity before considering it sustainable.

But, as the Lithuanian Ambassador to Bucharest, Arvydas Pocius, said at the Bucharest MAS conference, "EU member states have begun to talk about PESCO and what needs to be done to strengthen Europe’s security, not just for NATO members, but also for other European countries. I think this is a great topic to be debated, but it should not be an alternative to NATO. They have to find a way to work together. EU and NATO should work together, not separately. This is my point of view." 

Translated by Andreea Soare